Self care is important everyday, but it’s especially important during your period. This time of the month brings about all sorts of hardships, from pain, to discomfort, to melancholy. If you don’t counteract it with self care, you’ll get your month off to a bad start. And, after all, your period happens 12 times a year. For something that happens so frequently, it’s a good idea to learn how to deal with it!
Period pain can come in the form of moderate to severe cramps, headaches, and back aches. It can also cause bodily discomfort, bloating and nausea.
For others, your period is a time of mental anguish. You can feel depressed and have terrible unexplained crying jags. It can also be a time when junk food cravings run the show. Now, more than ever, your body needs nutritious, whole foods–not gummy bears and potato chips.
Ironically, the things we need most during our period are the least appealing. Try to resist the urge to eat comfort food and languish on your sofa. You’ll thank yourself later for choosing to implement period self care!
*MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: the information in this article is educational in nature, and is not to be taken as medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional about new medications and treatments.
Why is period self care so important?
When you’re on your period, you’re likely in moderate to severe pain. Humans have a way of interpreting pain emotionally, and as a result, pain can cause anxiety and depression. Plus, a little something called PMS makes you susceptible to anxiety and depression even without pain.
This combination of pain and mental anguish can make one spiral into unhealthy behaviours. These behaviours include overeating the wrong kinds of foods and avoiding exercise.
It’s crucial to take action to reduce pain and keep your mental health in check. Self-care can mean taking a day off work or school if the pain is affecting your concentration.
Ways to deal with pain naturally
Ibuprofen can be a great solution for period pain, but overuse can damage your stomach lining. If taking an ibuprofen isn’t an option for you or you’d rather deal with pain naturally, there are other ways to deal with pain.
Try a CBD oil product specifically designed for dealing with period pain. CBD is the product of cannabis that’s responsible for making your body feel relaxed. It’s separate from THC, the product of cannabis that gets you high. CBD oil on its own is helpful for muscle aches, but for it to relieve period pain, it needs a bit of THC. These products are suitable for relaxing at home, but not recommended for activities like manual labour or driving.
While you can always use a hot compress for period pain, there are other new drug-free pain relievers on the market. Try a device that uses TENS technology. This technology is worn on the body and administers pulses to the point of pain, canceling pain signals to the brain.
How do I cope with depression and anxiety on my period?
Being on your period can make you feel extra stressed or depressed. To improve your mental health, it’s crucial to limit stressors that make you feel anxious. Reducing screen time, whether it’s your phone or the TV, can have huge impacts on your mental health. Refraining from looking at your phone an hour before bed is especially crucial.
Practising mindfulness has profound benefits on your mental health. Mindfulness is the practise of turning your attention away from your thoughts and onto sensations in the present. For example, you could focus on the action of breathing. Repeated practise changes the neural pathways in your brain to make you less likely to have negative thought patterns.
What are the best foods to eat on your period?
When on your period, it’s recommended that you eat anti-inflammatory foods. These foods ease muscle cramps and bloating.
Foods like avocados, dark leafy greens, berries, and tomatoes are great anti-inflammatory foods to eat during your period. If you’re looking for a treat but want to keep it healthy, a few squares of dark chocolate can satisfy your craving.
What food should be avoided during your period?
When you’re on your period, it’s best to avoid processed foods that are high in sugar, carbs and saturated fats. Avoid foods like sugary drinks, cookies, processed meats, chips, and crackers. These inflammatory foods give you tummy pain and bloating, which compounds period cramps.
You should also limit your caffeine intake while on your period. Caffeine slows the movement of blood throughout your body, including your uterus. When blood can’t reach your uterus, period cramps feel worse.
Can reusable pads help with period pain?
While we know of no research that proves cloth pads can help with your period cramps, anecdotally, many of our customers have reported this to be the case. What we know for certain is reusable pads don’t cause irritation and rashes like disposable pads. This helps your overall experience of discomfort and irritability.
Most people don’t know how irritating plastic disposable pads are and just think irritation is part of the period experience. Plastic pads contain all sorts of chemicals that cause allergic reactions when exposed to moisture. Not to mention, these harmful chemicals are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins.
Amie reusable pads have a cotton spandex top layer and a super absorbent bamboo organic cotton fleece core. These materials are breathable, eliminating irritation and odours.
What are some exercises I can do when I’m really not feeling it?
It’s no secret that working out on your period makes you feel a whole lot better. But what exercises can you do when you feel downright lousy?
We recommend low-impact, gentle exercise. A half-hour walk is a great form of mild cardio. It also combines the mental health benefits of being in nature. Looking at trees, plants and foliage and noticing birds and squirrels can greatly improve our mental health.
Yoga is also a low-impact exercise that can relieve period cramps. All you need is a yoga mat (or 3-4 towels stacked on top of each other) and an open space. There are tons of great beginner yoga guides on YouTube.
Just being on your feet and doing house work can count as exercise. If you have leaves to rake, dishes to wash, or a bathroom to clean, these tasks get your heart rate going.
Don’t be a hero
Sometimes, even if you’ve done everything under the sun to improve your pain or your mood, you’ll still be doubled over. The only thing you can do is take the day off from work, school, or whatever obligations you have.
Doctors have been known to not take menstrual pain seriously. As a result, society looks down upon those who call in sick because of their period. But guess what? Your period pain, discomfort and mood swings are all real. You can’t be productive all the time, so take this moment to re-group and practise period self care.
written by Leslie Armstrong, an energetic and engaging, Toronto-based sustainability copywriter; Leslie Armstrong Copywriting